After the events of 9/11, not only the United States but the whole world has entered the condition of constant fear. As a response, in 2011, the US commander in chief, President Obama, ordered an operation that aimed to kill Osama bin Laden who was the head of a terroristic organization called Al Qaeda. The organization was responsible for the loss of thousands of lives during the attacks of 9/11. Operation Geronimo captured and killed Osama bin Laden, thus actively supporting most of the American and international community. However, the debates around the legality of the President’s permission of Operation Geronimo are not going to end. This essay argues that President Obama was legally correct to order and execute Operation Geronimo.
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Authorizing Operation Geronimo is the decision that was made by applying the US domestic laws as well as international ones. After the bombing of 9/11, Congress approved the resolution of Authorization for the Use of Military Force. The resolution provided President Obama a chance “to use all necessary and appropriate force against those nations, organizations, or persons he determines planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, or harbored such organizations or persons, in order to prevent any future acts of international terrorism against the United States by such nations, organizations or persons” (Joint Resolution, 2001).
Therefore, due to the resolution, the US commander in chief was legally correct within the US domestic laws to permit the mission that captured and killed Osama bin Laden. The killing of the head of the organization that planned the attacks and was a significant threat to national security was necessary to protect the people. This ensured people of the US that the government is on their side, making them feel secure.
On the other hand, critiques of the legality of allowing Operation Geronimo rely on Executive Order 12333 of President Reagan. The order prohibits assassination by any person or organization that works in or acting as a representative of the United States (1981). Nevertheless, it does not provide detailed conditions or context of the assassination. Without any context or further information, it was difficult to draw lines about what to do and how. As such, Operation Geronimo did not violate any rules and cannot be defined as an illegal action.
The United States was true a victim of the attacks of Al Qaeda. According to the jus ad Bellum, which is a set of international laws, a state can justify its use of global force if the force was used with regard to the United Nations Security Council (Wood). The use of force is also suitable in the context of self-defense following an external armed attack (Wood). Thus, the killing of Osama bin Laden is considered to be a self-defense measure due to the fact that the US is a victim of the attack from an international source. Moreover, preventing function of a terroristic organization and its future attacks is a valuable mission that provides security not only for one country but for the whole world.
In addition to this, international law has a set of rules about the parameters of the allowed scope and the nature of used force. Due to this, entering Pakistan by the US military force and completing its mission to capture the head were legal according to international law. The US forces did not have any other option but to enter the territory of Pakistan. On the other side, there was a critique claiming that the US violated the sovereignty of Pakistan because the US armed force was acting in the country without any communication with local authorities.
The territorial integrity of every state should be respected by other states and not be interrupted without an agreement. However, the United Nations highlights the fact that countries may enter a territory of other countries if there are factors leading to prevent international conflicts (Wood). As such, when the US armed force entered Pakistan, it was not a violation but a legal measure. Considering this, the order and execution of the plan of Operation by President Obama were legally authorized.
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To conclude, looking back to September 11, 2001, is terrifying due to the loss of lives, hopes, and dreams of thousands of people. It was an attack that nobody was expecting and even though about it. People were occupied by fear and a sense of loss. The US government was required to do something to support its citizens and maintain national security. Therefore, President Obama decided to order the case of Osama bin Laden to weaken the terroristic organization.
This decision divided the world into two sides, the one that supported Obama’s action and the other one that questioned its legality. However, Obama’s order was done in accordance with domestic and international laws. Moreover, it gained support of the millions of Americans and international organizations. As such, Operation Geronimo must be considered legally correct and not be questioned anymore.
Joint resolution to authorize the use of United States Armed Forces against those responsible for the recent attacks launched against the United States. S.J.Res. 23. 107th Cong. (2001).
Wood. (n.d.). International Law and the Use of Force: What happens in Practice?. Legal UN. 53(1): 345-367.
Executive Order No. 12333. 46. 59941, 3 C.F.R. 200. (1981).